by Abi Shapiro, Recipient of a 2016 Next Generation Teller Scholarship to Sharing the Fire
I sit in my bedroom surrounded by the scattered remnants of the weekend and the memories begin to unpack themselves. I survey the scene; a collection of Grimm’s Fairy Tales I picked up for a dollar, An invitation to a late night house concert, Two storyteller brochures, six business cards, a folder full of new friendships written on little pieces of paper, and my own tattered book of bones. As I look at these items they begin to lift off my duvet and spin, encircling me with rainbow spirals of memories and newly forming stories. I sit in the whirlwind and wonder which ones I’ll pluck out, which inspirations i’ll follow and which questions still beg to be answered.
This was my first Sharing the Fire and it was an honor to attend as a recipient of the Next Generation Teller scholarship. I’ve been a storyteller for two years, but in the juttering and stumbling way one might get up on a snowboard once a year but never quite build up the courage to slide down a black diamond trail, I incorporated story into my life and work only every couple months. But as we know stories want to be told, stories need to be told, and they continued, patiently, to knock on my door.
So I opened it. I opened it and found my self on the steps of the Sharing the Fire palace. I came seeking inspiration and motivation, to brush up my skills and plug into the local storytelling network. After ascending the mountain, grabbing the golden goblet and returning to my kingdom I realized with gratitude that I walked away with all of that plus more; a clearer vision of my mission and purpose, a solid collaborative support network, at least fifty thought provoking prompts for personal narrative, and a heart full of the courageous, funny, informative, raw and risky stories I heard throughout the weekend.
I heard ancient folktales intermingled with true stories of discovering our true identities, tales of gardens being planted in lieu of lawns and one Amy Oestreicher, who brought me to tears with her brutally honest yet compassionately told tale of a life lived inside out. We discussed important questions; What does the world need right now? How can folktales, fairy tales and true stories connect people and pave the way for tangible change? How can we tell stories that heal? How can we be effective storylisteners? I was encouraged by tellers I’d only just met to get out there, tell, tell, tell and even prepare a workshop to submit for STF2017. I felt the power of a loving community, eager to make positive change and connect people across divides.
So here I am, sitting on my bed. The colors swirl around me and I gaze at the memories. I’m full of infinite gratitude and excitement for the journey to come. The journey deep into the heart of New England storytelling and my own growth as a teller with a purpose. Thank you LANES and thank you to all the miraculous human beings I met and connected with. Thank you for the stories and thank you for the love. See you on the path!
Abigail is a vagabond, warrior-ess wielder of the spoken word. She currently resides in Amherst, MA where she’s exploring the correlations between body movement, myth and folktales, and personal archetypes.